Answering the Dreaded, “Tell Me About Yourself”

Think back on all the job interviews you’ve had. How many times has the interviewer opened with, “Tell me about yourself.”? How many times have you floundered to interpret what that means or come up with a succinct answer on the spot? It’s a common scenario. Time and time again interviewers stump interviewees with that open-ended prompt and yet even the most seasoned candidates still don’t know how to respond.

Here are three tips to nailing the response to “tell me about yourself” and getting the interview started off right:

  1. Don’t start with a chronological review of your work history. Interviewers aren’t looking for details they can read on your resume. They want to know what milestones and experiences have brought you to this point in your career and how those relate to the open position they’re looking to fill.
  2. Stay positive. Don’t let your response turn into a session where you vent about the woes of your current position. Talk about what you’re looking for in your new job and why. Don’t just list the parts of your current job you’re trying to get away from.
  3. Be concise. Based on the details you provide in your response, the interviewer will branch out into more detailed questions. Stick to a brief overview that gives your potential employer a good idea of who you are and why you’re interested in this role.

With the knowledge of the position and company you’re interviewing with, you can develop an efficient answer to “tell me about yourself” that will create a great first impression and give the interviewer a clear understanding of why you’re right for this job. For more job interview tips, check out our candidate job search resource.